7th May - Thought For The Day - Opposition
Words by Bev Jones
Martin Luther King, speaking about the opposition that he faced in his fight for civil rights in America said this:
“As my sufferings mounted, I soon realised that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation...either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
One of the things that we can be sure of, in the Christian life, is that when we begin to take back some territory for God, we will face opposition. We won’t all be civil rights activists, but each of us has the opportunity to play a part in the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth, and that’s exactly what Nehemiah was doing when he started to re-build the wall. Once he had revealed God’s plan, and got people on board with the re-building, the opposition started, and for each advancement came a setback, each one wearing down the workers and undermining the effort. Nehemiah’s response was an unswerving trust in the God who had given him the vision:
'...We countered with prayer to our God...’ (Chapter 4:9 MSG), and then telling the people: ‘Don’t be afraid... put your minds on the Master, great and awesome...’ (Chapter 4:14 MSG)
Photo by Hannah Busing via Unsplash
Nehemiah recognised that undertaking such a huge job would be tiring, but as well as the constant encouragement to focus their eyes on God, he also assigned all the workers their own piece of wall. Each person, or family was allocated the wall closest to where they lived – that was their responsibility. Working in this way however, meant that they could feel alone, isolated and open to attack, so he created a plan of defence that saw half the people working while the other half stood guard, and an early warning system of a trumpet being sounded which would offer immediate communication and support.
How amazing that something written so long ago can offer such a good framework for people of the 21st century as we ponder on the re-building of our own walls.
Nehemiah recognised three vital elements that are just as crucial for us today:
• the reliance on prayer – allowing God to lead, and being willing to follow
• the importance of being aware that where we’re placed is where we start; re-building those sections closest to us
• the significance of togetherness. That although we may all be separated at the moment, we have a Father who binds us together in His love, and we have a responsibility to support each other.
Photo by Sane Rounce via Unsplash
If those three things form the foundation of any re-building, then the opposition that will surely come will not gain a foothold. We shouldn’t be under any illusion that re-building will be easy, and we need to recognise that sometimes, the fiercest opposition comes not from outside the walls, but from within. That’s why we need a clear vision, strong reliance on God, and a strong system of support from and for each other, so that rather than asking God to get us out of the difficulties, we ask him to strengthen us through them:
“They were all trying to frighten us thinking, ‘their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’” (Chapter 6:9 NIV)